The Penn State men’s hockey season has been pretty exciting already, but it almost feels like a switch has been thrown this week.
The Big Ten schedule begins Thursday, and it starts with Michigan.
“I don’t think anybody on our team will or should have any difficulty preparing for Thursday,” captain David Goodwin said Monday at the team’s weekly session with the media. “We’ll be ready to go right from the drop of the puck.”
No. 7 Penn State (11-1-1), which continues to rise in the national rankings while riding a nation-best 11-game unbeaten streak, hosts the No. 20 Wolverines (6-5-1) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and 7 p.m. Friday at Pegula Ice Arena.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky said they try to prepare and play the same no matter the opponent, but they can sense a difference when a conference team is on the other bench.
“What’s different is the feel when you get to the arena,” Gadowsky said. “Pegula is always (a) tremendous atmosphere, but there is just a little bit different when you play a Big Ten school and that’s something that you feel.”
The coach is also counting on his experienced players to remind the team’s 12 newcomers of the importance of Big Ten games.
“Anybody playing Michigan in hockey at any time, I don’t think you have to worry about getting the team’s attention,” Gadowsky said. “I think the guys are pretty focused. Even though it was during Thanksgiving, they’ve been really looking forward to this week.”